Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Skin Wars - The Fight for 'Flawless' Skin.

I'll just work on taking care of myself the best I can
My personal journey to this point has taken TIME. Much more time and energy than I would have liked but such is the process of growth. I am sure we all still carry around with us some unhealed hurts from our teenage years.  Memories of non-acceptance can emotionally scar us. It’s just part of this whole-living-your-life-process. The right tools don’t always make their way into our hands and often people will look at us as ‘weak’ if we want to address emotional issues. One of  the things I have struggled to deal with is my skin issues. When I say skin issues I mean my lack of ‘flawless’ skin. The pressure to look physically 'amazing' is always there. The struggle started in my teens and depending on my priorities I can always drown it out but it will always be there.  I call this struggle the skin wars, because it felt like I was battling with my skin.  I mean the way our skin looks can be tied to our self esteem in such a way that the journey ends up being an internal one before anyone can fix the external. Yes that cliche talk about people working on their inner wellbeing does apply here, maybe some miracle creams and procedures out there do work but some of us haven't got BeyoncĂ© or JLO money so we just have to learn to get comfortable with what we DO have.  

My skin wars began in my teens; the year my hormones kicked into gear. The minute I hit puberty I stopped being the cute little girl. Every thing stretched and got wider and bigger except my boobs and my voice. I don’t remember the first pimple I got, in fact I can’t tell when exactly the pimples and rashes started but they did. I wonder whether that’s a testament to the way my parents had brought up  my siblings and I, that I had never considered the fact that my looks were tied too my value; I was already accepted and loved. Anyways one day my Dad came home with Oxy facial products, he sat me down and explained how to use them. That’s when I realised that my appearance REALLY mattered. From then I  became aware of people's reactions to my skin. People offer unsolicited opinions all the time, you can enter a shop looking for shampoo and the  assistant immediately starts telling you about their best selling skin care range.  I feel like rather than just look for what was best for my body and skin I was taught to fight the pimples which I did for very long while after that.

By 2014 I know I had bought and tried every product available  on a student budget  and working woman budget ( this is  an exaggeration I didn't buy ALL of them but I bought  many many many products!) and actually introducing the famous salicylic acid to my skin made it worse. The amount of high to low end products I used on my skin without research is incredible. It was war. I was fighting against the pimples, thinking that I could tame my skin....
'the second you see a zit invading your face...'
Reduce oil production’
‘Unclog clogged pores’
‘Eliminate black heads’
‘Matte skin with a healthy glow no shine for 8 hours’
‘75% reduction in the appearance of spots in just three hours’

Remember all those slogans? They still use them today.  I even tried tooth paste because my mum came home with a ‘success’ story from a co-worker. Worst of all I even tried baking powder, it totally dried out my skin, my skin looked terribly dry.

As I approached my mid twenties with no sign of change or improvement I felt deflated, I decided to be passive aggressive towards my own skin. I would just spend as little time  as possible on it. I was convinced my skin was a rebel. I gave up on cream washes, scrubs, and special moisturizers for acne; tired of spending huge amounts of money only to see the results disappear after a month. Of course this reflected on my self esteem but I always brushed it off. I could not wear cover up make up because that would just aggravate my skin more.  
Now because I am working on a relationship with God and trying have honest conversations. I prayed about it. It was an issue that was disturbing me. With my new commitment I had to mention it. I had to give God the benefit of the doubt even if I felt it was vain to pray about skin.

Well I am not sure if God answered my prayers I just noticed one day that when I stopped using castor oil on my hair the pimples stopped coming. When my 'expensive' moisturizer finished, I started using a sample of Livara Shea Butter product I had bought from EnrviriZaNacho.  Bella the owner of the shop insisted it would help, and because this was ANOTHER unsolicited opinion on my skin I nodded believing she was just trying to get her next sale. But she was right.  I knew I’d caught on to something, because when I travelled upcountry for work my skin didn’t break out. I waited and waited but the break out never came. Now I am mad because all a long I should have been using a product that my African ancestors knew was 'tried and tested' for thousands of years. Turns out raw Shea Butter has a ton of benefits! Google it.  I can tell you that my skin feels fantastic! I don’t care what flaws anyone sees now it’ s soooo much better than where it was and for that reason I am happy. I am also a loyal Livara customer (note:  I have not been paid to write this. ) 
 I guess all I needed to do is learn to listen and pay attention to my body's needs. I found something that works for me and that is something I hope to teach my children.

The war is over. We are at peace now.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Be Brave Enough to Take Your Dreams Seriously in 2017

Inspiration + food = Fantastic!

I am heading for Dine and Dream 2017 on Friday 6th January(that's tomorrow). I paid for my ticket and they sent me an e-mail with homework. Yes they gave me homework… and guess what they give me homework before Christmas day!? Who does that? Only people with a REAL VISION for their event I guess. And if I want to be a person with a workable VISION for 2017, I must continue to do this grown-up home work even on the most sacred of holidays. In case you haven’t heard already,  Dine and Dream is a seven hour ‘power packed event’ taking place at Silver Springs Hotel. The theme this year is “looking with innovative eyes for breakthrough results”, and the guest speak is Mr. Julian Kyula, co-founder and Group CEO of MODE, Nairobi.

I thought all I’d have to do on Friday is show up in a nice pretty dress , choose a table near the back to hide my introvert self, feel inspired by all the discussions taking place, share some vague generic new year’s resolutions with the other attendees, eat some good food and go home. My plan was ruined by my thoughts on the amount money I paid for  just one ticket, and the homework e-mail I received. Funnily enough, I need to get my money’s worth out of this event so I am actually glad my plan was annihilated by Joan Mugezi’s e-mail. Towards the end of 2016, I started to mentally deliberate on how to make myself a more organized person in 2017. If you know me well, then you will understand that this is a mammoth task! I thrive in a little messy chaos(that’s how creativity lives…), but sadly it’s time for me to grow up a bit…

The homework I was given was not the ordinary academic stuff. It triggered the parts of me that need a change; the urgency to take charge of my life has been calling. I have to create a mature plan for this year, one that sets  the tone and the standard for the next five years. can you imagine? The Dine and Dream Team have prompted all this introspection before I have even set foot in the building for the event on Friday! At their request I have even found an accountability partner for the year so that  I have no excuses... Amazing...just Amazing

“I spoke at Stanford a couple of years ago and I was amazed to hear that everyone wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I thought that was such an interesting thing to say because usually you find your passion and you become an entrepreneur by nature of what your passion is and figure that out, I think people need to pay their dues a bit and be open to learning I don't think that everyone can all of a sudden have a start up, it's good to get some experience under your belt.”

Tory Burch, CEO at Tory Burch
All over the world as part  of the new year, we have a  human tradition of making resolutions. Let me be honest and say I have never taken mine seriously.  I mean my best friend and I used to write them down on a napkin in the first restaurant we found ourselves in during the first weekend of January. Then being the millennials we are, we’d take a picture and save it for our half-hearted review the following year. The truth is.... over the last couple years I didn’t really know myself well enough to understand what I wanted to achieve in life, which meant I couldn’t create substantial life impacting resolutions. Mine were mostly vague; easy to dismiss, easy to forget.

The good news is I know who I am now. You best believe, I am lovin' putting together the physical proof of my plan. I am going to buy A3 poster paper, colourful post-it notes, glue and a some glitter…..long story short I am going to have fun once I finish scribbling down the first mini rough draft !

I have noticed that some of us rarely speak our dearest dreams out loud, especially those dreams that are closest  to our hearts. Probably because we are scared of the ridicule that might occur if we share our plans when they are still raw and unplanned in our heads. Then there is also the problem of never knowing who’s out to sabotage us in our growth. And lastly what about God’s plans for our lives?  I am sure you've heard the saying if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.

“We’re kids aren’t we?

Yes, kids with grown up powers.” ~ Lang Leav (lullabies)

Don’t be discouraged though, there is some hope and wisdom to this blog post.

I think the fun part of this whole exercise is in the dreaming, and then also in the mechanics of making your dream a reality. More often than not we are so fixated on the end goal, publishing that bestseller, creating a successful startup, losing all that weight, building our dream home, or having the perfect family.  But what if this time you focused on just enjoying the ‘creating’ process? What if you just enjoyed the course of actions you take towards writing your book, saving that money and searching for that piece of land, or even those regular trips to the gym.  That’s where the REAL living of life occurs, in the ‘creating’ process. You might spend 5, or 10 or even 15 years creating your dream and in all that time you don’t want to miss out on the joy. Please... please don’t miss out on the joy of creating because Life will continue to happen without you, like you never existed.. The world will keep on rotating around the Sun. And like I mentioned earlier you won't be here forever, plus they certainly won’t bury you with that beautiful house you built, so you best make sure that right now, while you are breathing  you are enjoying the process.

As a result of the epiphany in the paragraph above,  the anticipation of attending this event has inspired me to clearly articulate my goals without any unhealthy emotional attachment to them. Not only to articulate the goals but to start laying out the steps I will take to achieve them. And here is my DISCLAMER full of wisdom:  If I make them happen fantastic, if not it doesn’t make me any less of a person. What matters most to me is that I attempted to with some serious gusto! I hope it’s the same story for you. Also don't forget even the 'small' dreams count... 

 Let's commit to enjoying the process! 

“Realize that the path to your success will come from knowing how to deal with not knowing rather than based on what you know. Gain that humility. Enjoy the mistakes.”

Ray Dalio, CIO and Chairman at Bridgewater Associates

Now let me get back to my Dine and Dream Homework…..  

If you would like to buy tickets to the Dine and Dream 2017, click here.

 The Inspiring Quotes in this article were taken from here.